OTTAWA, Ont. - Riley Whitlock (pictured) had a close encounter with possibility and perhaps even his future over the summer training with goaltender coach Eli Wilson of the Ottawa Senators alongside NHL notables Carey Price and Alex Auld.

Not bad company for a 22-year-old Calgary native expected to shoulder the load or at least carry a major part of it for Gee-Gees men's hockey this season.

"It was good to see where you have to take your game," said Whitlock, an OUA All-Rookie Team selection last season. "It would be nice to get there one day."

Whitlock's proving ground off an 11-5 debut - which ended in a second-round playoff sweep against UQTR - is within Gee-Gees iron.

He and fifth-year goaltending platoon-mate Martin Bricault (Cap-Rouge, Que.) will either carry or sink the Gee-Gees over the team's 119th season, which begins Saturday night, 8 p.m. against newfound rival Carleton, a men's program in it's second season after a 33-year break.

uOttawa finished last season 14-12-2 in third-place in the OUA Far East, three points ahead of Carleton.

The Gee-Gees retooled forward lines are fronted by last season's top scorer Dan McDonald (New Liskeard, Ont.), a left wing who had a three-season stop in Kingston among three teams over five OHL seasons, and returning fifth-year team captain Martin Herard (St Ignace de Loyola, Que.), who positively puts the 'g' in grinder.

Gee-Gees third-year defenceman Mathieu Desjardins (Gloucester, Ont.) envisions a leadership role now that his actual vision isn't fuzzy.

Desjardins had an unplanned and unpleasant end to his 2007 season after a two-handed stick found the back of his head in the last game of the regular season. The play left an unconscious shell slumped in a silent rink with a badly broken jaw and concussion that required a brief hospital stay.

"Head is fine, jaw still a little bit sore once in a while," said Desjardins. "Everything seems to be working properly."

Among a healthy stable of recruits is left-winger Matthieu Methot, an Ottawa native formerly of the 67’s, who scored twice for the Gee-Gees in the 0-1-1 pre-season. Methot is just the third player in Gee Gees history to play for both Ottawa OHL and CIS teams.

"We finally have offensive depth," said Gee-Gees head coach Dave Leger. "Are we going to be a good team this year or are we going to do what is necessary to be a great team?"

Source: Gee-Gees Athletics